A pitcher making his Wingnuts debut, working his way toward providing extended innings, pitched effectively enough to save Wichita’s depleted bullpen against Amarillo on Tuesday night.
And Nate Robertson pitched, too.
Nick Schreiber, who the Wingnuts signed Tuesday along with Robertson, allowed two hits in five innings in relief of Wichita’s other new pitcher. He allowed one run in the Wingnuts’ 7-1 win at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Robertson, a former major league and Wichita State pitcher, threw 17 pitches in his first appearance at Lawrence-Dumont since the 1998 NBC World Series. But Schreiber, who was 6-1 with Lincoln last season, made an impact that matched the hype of Robertson’s return.
"A good find, for sure," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said of Schreiber. "A good fastball. It looked like it had some late life too it — you could tell by the swings, some uncomfortable swings against him. Nate came in and did a good job and Schreiber followed him right up."
C.J. Ziegler hit two home runs and had five RBIs, hitting a three-run shot in the first that was partly a product of the Wingnuts’ excitement over adding Robertson.
Released on May 30 by the Cubs, where he was pitching out of the bullpen for Triple-A Iowa, Robertson is trying to get back to the big leagues and his pitch count will rise in his coming starts with the Wingnuts as he looks to attract MLB franchises.
Robertson struck out the game’s first batter, Jason White, on four pitches as part of a perfect first inning. Robertson a veteran of nine major league seasons who last pitched in the majors with Philadelphia in 2010, allowed a one-out single to Alberto Espinosa in the second.
Espinosa was retired on a double play and Robertson finished the second at 17 pitches. His maximum output was 30 pitches, but Robertson along with pitching coach and his brother, Luke, and Hooper decided not to extend him further.
"I thought to myself that I could try to push it and then shoot myself in the foot tomorrow," Robertson said. "The stress in it all is when you get fired up and sit down. The sitting down part and getting back going again and firing back up, that’s where you really take a lot of the strain."
Schreiber was on a pitch count, too — 80 pitches — but didn’t come close to reaching it in five innings. His efficiency helped him pitch through the seventh on 66 pitches, and the only blemish against him was Espinosa’s solo homer in the fifth.
Before the game, the Wingnuts lost closer Matt Nevarez to the Boston Red Sox organization and primary setup reliever Edgar Martinez to the Mexican League. That left them with three relievers, so they activated Luke Robertson in case of emergency.
Schreiber made unconventional use of the bullpen mostly unnecessary, though starter Derek Blacksher pitched the eighth inning. He struck out five and escaped further trouble in the fifth when David Peralta ran down a fly ball in right field with two runners on.
"Crazy day today with all the moves," Hooper said. "It was madness. I’ve been non-stop ever since I got here today. But that’s my job. That’s what we’ll do, we’ll fill some spots and find some guys out there and hopefully win some ballgames."
Amarillo starter Chuck Lofgren’s pedigree isn’t as impressive as Robertson’s, but the former Triple-A left-hander provided a challenge to the Wingnuts, at least after the first inning.
Two walks and Jake Kahaulelio’s RBI single preceeded Ziegler’s first home run, which appeared wind-aided but hit high off the scoreboard in left-center to cap the four-run inning.
Lofgren allowed one hit between the second and fifth innings, but Wichita maintained a comfortable lead before Ziegler struck again in the eighth for his 10th home run, against Wes Littleton.
"(Lofgren) did settle down," Ziegler said. "It’s very important to get to him early because you want to put them in a hole and make the other team play some ball, too. Any way that we can get ahead and continue to put pressure on them, we’ve got to do it."
|White ss||3||0||0||0||Khoury ss||2||1||0||0|
|Tucker rf||4||0||0||0||Kahaulelio 2b||3||1||1||1|
|Opitz 2b||3||0||0||0||Rodriguez lf||3||1||0||0|
|Alberts dh||4||0||0||0||Richardson 3b||3||2||1||0|
|Espinosa c||3||1||2||1||Ziegler 1b||3||2||2||5|
|Pope 3b||2||0||0||0||Peralta rf||3||0||0||0|
|Buschini lf||3||0||1||0||Carrillo 3b||2||0||0||1|
|Rau 1b||3||0||0||0||Freeman c||3||0||1||0|
|Kain cf||3||0||0||0||Conroy cf||3||0||0||0|
LOB— Amarillo 3, Wichita 2. DP— Amarillo 2, Wichita 1. HR — Amarillo, Espinosa (3), Wichita, Ziegler 2 (10). SB—Khoury 2 (11), Kahaulelio (5), Richardson (5). CS—Peralta. SF—Carillo.
HBP — by Schreiber (Pop). WP — Lofgren. Umpires — home, Chas Stadola; first, Dan Hoffman; second, Joe Pasucci. T — 2:09. A — 3,411.